Paris – signs

Posted by jerry on June 19th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Travel

Signs communicate a lot about a culture – both in terms of what they say, and how they say it. Signs show the boundaries of a society’s identity, marking the limits, or reflecting on the limits, such as where a sign has been altered, or where non-official signs are placed, such as graffiti and stencil art.

Paris is a place with style – its street signs are not merely utilitarian, but are artistically designed too.

This sign was designed in the 1920s

This one also gives the significance of the name – in this case the first female musical director of the orchestra.

Not all big yellow ‘M’ signs refer to a scottish restaurant – this one points out the entrance to the Metro station – the underground subway train system


And in a city where motorbikes dominate the traffic – and the parking, it’s interesting to see that mopeds here are have their own separate identity – even in the process of saying ‘No Parking’


Some signs point to good food ๐Ÿ™‚

Others, such as this stencil sign on a footpath present a warning against/of racism.


This one loosely says

“Foreigners, donโ€™t leave us alone with these โ€œfrenchโ€ that are full of fear of the other, and superiority feeling.”

– thanks to ‘Frenchguy’ who left a comment below.

A Google translation yielded:

Abroad (Foreign visitors). Do not leave us alone with these ‘French’. Beef fear another ox’s sense of superiority

It seems ambiguous, and it is difficult to know whether the ‘beef’ refers to Frankish french or immigrant French. Either way this place clearly still has some issues with multicultural integration – unofficially of course. [NB see comment by ‘French guy” below – I could be reading this incorrectly, I would love to think this was an internationalist message as this guy reckons – please confirm or otherwise which is the most accurate translation ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks – Jerry]

Other stencil art is truly charming – like this one in Montmartre’s artist district


Just beyond this sign were quite a number of portrait artists touting for the tourist euro – several of them were quite good too.

And the French are proud of their (relatively) tidy streets (aside from the animal droppings). This sign tells people not to throw their rubbish under penalty of a fine. By order of the sanitation department of Paris.


And that’s just a few of the myriad signs that adorn Paris ๐Ÿ™‚



Comment by Angela

What a fabulous post – I love this idea!! Signs as signs of identity – gorgeous images Jerry!

Posted on June 20, 2007 at 5:26 pm

Comment by french guy

hey everybody !
nice post. I don’t know how i ended here, probably after seeing a french sign with englisj comment ^^.

i just wanted to correct the translation of the first stencil sign :

so it would be :

Foreigners, don’t leave us alone with these “french” that are full of fear of the other, and superiority feeling.

So it’s not a xenophobic message, but the opposite. The message says to foreigners, please don’t leave france and let the french people alone with the racist in the country.

There’s also some racist grafitti is france, but not much. Ther’s a lot more of these kind of internationalist, open minded, lefty messages. Wich, even if you’re not totally aggreing wuth them, is way better than xenophobic messages.

Posted on October 19, 2007 at 11:52 pm

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